Communications, a multidisciplinary field of study that explores the various methods of private and professional human interaction, includes elements of oral and written language, history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and statistics. Due to the recent rise in digital communication, the field also incorporates information technology and computer science. According to PayScale, those who earn a master's degree in communication earn a median annual salary of $59,500 during their first four years on the job and $67,500 after 10 years in the workforce.
Master's in communication jobs exist in industries such as business administration, education, law, technology, and journalism. Many learners choose to build on their undergraduate studies by earning a master's in communication, as well. In recent years, communication has grown in popularity among graduate-level students. The curriculum of a master's in communication degree program typically includes advanced coursework in mass media, public relations, writing, marketing, and information technology.
Some programs also allow you to earn specializations in niche areas of the field. Many students today earn their master's in communication online, rather than in a classroom. Online programs usually adhere to the same curricula as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and may also be more suitable for students that cannot commit to full-time, on-campus studies.
With our comprehensive guide, read on to learn more about what you can do with an online master's in communication and the career opportunities that await you.
Learn more about what you can do with an online master's in communication and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
Will This Program Provide Me With the Skills I Need to Advance My Career?
The best master's in communication degree online programs introduce advanced theories and methods in communication, allowing students to follow specialized learning tracks related to their career of choice. While a bachelor's degree is generally considered the minimum attainment level for most communications careers, a master's in this field can help graduates land managerial or top-level roles. A master's can also lead to advancement opportunities in the degree-holder's current organization.
Do I Need Previous Work Experience to Get In?
Some online communications master's programs prefer or require candidates to possess at least one or two years of professional experience before enrolling. In most cases, however, applicants will only need a bachelor's degree to apply. Scores from the GRE, GMAT, or other standardized entrance exams may also be needed, although a growing number of schools no longer require this component.
How Do I Find the Right Online Program for Me?
There are a handful of important considerations to make when choosing an online communications master's program. These include the overall cost (tuition and added expenses), institutional data such as student retention and graduation rates, and the school's accreditation status and reputation. Many students also choose colleges and universities based on unique courses, specializations, and internship possibilities.
What are the Advantages to Earning My Master's in Communication Online?
Online communication master's programs follow the same curricula as brick-and-mortar pathways, so successful graduates often qualify for the same post-degree job opportunities. Without the need to make regular trips to and from campus, the asynchronous (or self-paced) format of many online master's in communications degree programs offers an ideal alternative to students who work full time or care for small children.
Accredited Online Communication Programs
|1||University of Florida Gainesville, FL||Cost: $$$$$||
UF's online MA in mass communication offers eight areas of unique concentration: audience analytics, digital strategy, global strategic communications, political communication, public interest communication, public relations and communication management, social media, and web design and online communication. The public interest communication concentration is an up-and-coming program, which will be offered for the first time in the spring of 2018. UF’s eLearning platform includes access to Lynda.com tutorials, VoiceThread (a collaboration and sharing tool), and Qualtrics research software.
Application deadlines for the online communication master’s are in the fall and spring, with program start dates during the spring and summer. Prospective applicants can view recorded information sessions for various program concentrations online. Application requirements include a bachelor’s degree, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, minimum GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation. UF offers competitive cost-per-credit tuition rates for in- and out-of-state students.
|2||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC||Cost: $$$$$||
The University of North Carolina offers its master of arts in technology and communication program online in a part-time format. Students take two courses per semester over the course of two-and-a-half years and are required to earn at least 30 credits. The program includes a semester-long project where students work alongside faculty. While some professors choose to deliver courses synchronously, students can take all courses asynchronously.
UNC provides resources such as library access, Adobe Creative Cloud products, IT support, and Sakai. Apart from the learning resources, students may broaden their professional network through UNC networking opportunities with classmates, program graduates, and school alumni. Applicants need at least three years of professional communications experience, a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, and GRE scores in the 55th percentile on the verbal portion and 50th percentile on the quantitative portion. Additional application materials include a resume or CV and a writing sample.
|3||Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY||Cost: $$$$$||
Columbia University's executive MS in strategic communication is a hybrid program that combines in-person and online instruction. Between residencies, students attend several full-day on-campus classes during select weekends throughout the semester.
This 36-credit master's in communication program can be completed within 16 months. A unique “scholar practitioner” approach combines traditional methods of communication with more contemporary methods through both simulated and real-world experiences. Diverse elective options allow students to take classes in a variety of subjects through the School of Professional Students. All Columbia students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 to graduate.
Students typically spend 20 to 25 hours per week learning through the online platform. Strategic communication workshops are offered throughout the year, with topics like virtual reality as a new medium. A sampling of interesting courses include digital media and analytics and leading people, with elective options like strategic storyteller and the power of opinion. Students apply in the spring for admission in the fall. The program requires that applicants have a bachelor’s degree, at least six years in a professional communication role, and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better.
|4||Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||
Johns Hopkins University’s master’s in communication can be completed entirely online, with entry periods in the fall, spring, and summer. Students living near Washington, D.C. can attend classes at the DC Center, where most sessions are held in the evenings with occasional classes on weekends.
The program consists of 10 courses, and teaches students how to translate research into powerful messages and to design effective communication campaigns. Distance learners who are also working full-time typically take one to two courses per semester, while others take three to five courses. Students have up to five years to complete their degree, and most finish in two years.
Other options available at Johns Hopkins include a dual MA in communication and MBA degree, or a combined MA in communication with a certificate in nonprofit management. Online courses are taught asynchronously and are accessible 24/7. Students can connect with peers via an online student union, which includes information on courses, jobs, live and recorded events, and chat rooms. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with related academic or professional experience and a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
|5||University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA||Cost: $$$$$||
USC’s master's of communication management, offered through USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, prepares students to become leaders in global business communications. The core curriculum covers topics in in corporate communication and marketing strategy. Students learn how to assess the psychological and social impact of communication and marketing approaches, and how to interpret data on the performance of campaigns and strategies. Available courses include integrated marketing communication strategies and audience analysis.
Students generally complete the program's nine courses, or 32 credit hours, over 20 months. USC offers classes in a 15-week semester structure, with full-time enrollment limited to two courses per semester. Applications can be submitted at any time during the academic year. Students apply separately to USC's graduate school and to the Annenberg School. Program admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree and minimum GRE scores. Graduates can choose from a variety of jobs in communication, in fields like corporate communication, public relations, and market research.
|6||American University Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||
Based in the District of Columbia, American University offers a master of arts in strategic communication program that consists of 15 core credits and 15 elective credits. Coursework is available 24/7 through an asynchronous course delivery method, which allows students to maintain family and work obligations while earning their degree. The online communications master’s offers students an optional concentration in advocacy and social impact, and students can complete the program in 20 months.
Applicants must submit their resume and participate in a phone interview with an admissions adviser. Online students may also apply for the Online Merit Scholarship for additional financial support. American University is a Yellow Ribbon Program school and is recognized by GI Jobs. Military-affiliated students may access the Veterans’ Liaison Network for academic support.
|7||Purdue University West Lafayette, IN||Cost: $$$$$||
The online communication master’s of science degree from Purdue University is specifically designed for working professionals who want to deepen their understanding of branding and messaging strategies across domestic and international platforms. Students will apply best practices to modern communication methods, including how to analyze social media engagement,apply ethics in decision-making, and approach writing across communication domains like public relations and advertising. The program's asynchronous curriculum emphasizes a “commitment to openness in communication and public affairs.” The average student dedicates about 20 hours per week to coursework.
Because of the program's professional focus, students are able to find networking opportunities among other students’ diverse experiences and connections, with past alumni coming from organizations like UNICEF, Boeing, and Coca-Cola. Admissions requirements for the MS in communication include a telephone interview with an admissions advisor and three professional letters of recommendation. Students who maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their undergraduate program are not required to submit GRE scores.
|8||Northeastern University Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||
Northeastern University's MS in corporate and organizational communication explores the latest communication trends through experiential opportunities and an interactive learning platform. Among other skills taught, students learn how to investigate social technology’s impact on communication patterns of employees and employers, investors, and other audiences. This fully online master’s in communication offers a choice of six concentrations: social media, public relations, human resource management, usability/user experience, project management, and leadership. Elective courses include personal branding, digital era skills, and international field study experience. In their final quarter, students must complete a 12-week capstone course. Additional, optional virtual experiences include six-week, not-for-credit projects through Northeastern's Experiential Network.
Students who are accredited public relations professionals may receive transfer credit and an opportunity to complete their degree on an accelerated track. Other students may also be able to accelerate their degree through qualifying transfer credits. Employed students may reduce tuition costs by taking advantage of any available employee tuition reimbursement programs.
|9||University of Denver Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||
The University of Denver offers online communications master’s degree programs with various concentrations, including organization communication and marketing communication. The organization communication program is designed for entry- or mid-level communications professionals. Among other skills, students learn how to apply communication management skills effectively and how to present important information to stakeholders. The marketing communication program prepares professionals or those entering the field with the skills needed to create, implement, and assess traditional and digital branding and marketing strategies. Students in both programs must complete 48 credit hours, including a capstone project, seminar, or portfolio option. The university’s online and interactive degree builder tool allows students to design their program online with electives that match their interests and career goals.
Applications are accepted during each semester by a specified deadline. Students who miss an application deadline during a semester are allowed to begin taking courses for one quarter before their application is accepted. Graduate students may transfer up to 12 credits, earned within the last five years, toward their master’s degree.
|10||University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Champaign, IL||Cost: $$$$$||
UI's MS in health communication, offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is available entirely online. Students can choose to specialize in one of several health communication tracks, including interpersonal, family, organizational, socially mediated, and cultural communication. Graduates are prepared for careers in health care fields like medicine, pharmaceuticals, public health, and patient advocacy.
Students usually complete the program in two years. The core curriculum spans 10 courses offered in either four- or eight-week semesters, with topics like health informatics, social marketing for health and behavior change, in addition to an individual capstone study project. Full-time students take two online courses each semester, structured as an eight-week course followed by a two-week break and then concluding with a four-week course.
Courses are taught asynchronously, with an average of two to three assignments and peer responses due each week. Part-time enrollment is also available. Interested applicants can request a sample online program lecture from the health communication program coordinator.
|11||Gonzaga University Spokane, WA||Cost: $$$$$||
Gonzaga University offers five start dates per year for its master’s in communication and leadership program. The 30-credit online communication master’s program includes core courses, elective classes, capstone or thesis courses, and an on-campus immersion experience. Optional program concentrations include college teaching, global leadership, and strategic and organizational.
The curriculum covers digital storytelling, communication teaching and pedagogy, and leadership and mindfulness. Students must participate in a 240-hour internship at a local college or university and usually complete the program in two years. The school expects students to work 10 to 15 hours per week on coursework.
Military personnel, Bank of America employees, Boeing employees, and federal government employees receive a 10% tuition discount. Diocese of Spokane receive a 50% discount. The 4+1 pathway enables students to earn an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years, and online students pay the same tuition rate as on-campus learners.
|12||Florida International University Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||
Florida International University offers an online master of science in mass communication with a global strategic communications track that enables students to learn at their own pace. The 20-credit, one-year online master’s degree in communication costs the same for residents and non-residents. Along with the master’s degree, students earn a graduate certificate in conflict resolution and consensus building.
Students start the program in either the fall or spring and take two courses each semester during the six eight-week terms. The curriculum covers media planning, strategic storytelling and digital content creation, and global strategic communication management. The program culminates with a professional project and independent study.
The school may award academic credit for military training, and tuition waivers are available for veterans with certain combat decorations. Applicants must submit GRE scores and a resume with their application.
|13||Liberty University Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||
Graduate students at Liberty University can choose from two online communication master’s programs: an MA in Communication or an MA in Strategic Communication. Liberty’s curriculum provides instruction on communication principles and practices through a Christian lens. The program is best fit for students pursuing careers in education or preparing for advanced study in communication. To graduate, students are required to complete 36 credit hours, 12 of which may be transferred. Example foundational course topics include strategies & tactics of persuasion, small group & team communications, and intercultural communication. In their final semester, students can choose to complete a final project, thesis, or comprehensive exam as a culminating experience course. Distance learners may access their courses through the Blackboard LMS.
Liberty provides for dual enrollment in a bachelor’s and master’s program with direct permission from the registrar. Generally, however, admission requirements for the master's program include a bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students with lower GPAs who show potential may be admitted on a case-by-case basis.
|14||Mississippi College Clinton, MS||Cost: $$$$$||
MC boasts the label of Mississippi’s oldest higher-learning institution and the first coeducational college in America to grant degrees to women back in 1831. The college is committed to the teachings of Christ. As a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium, MC welcomes military personnel and their families.
The school’s master of science in communication program offers students three online tracks: professional communication in sports, professional communication in health services administration, and integrated communication. The 31-credit online communications master’s degree curriculum includes courses in public relations, communication research, and process and effects of communication. Interested applicants must show proof of a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Courses are delivered asynchronously, which provides students the flexibility to maintain their family and work obligations.
|15||Michigan State University East Lansing, MI||Cost: $$$$$||
With more than 56,000 alumni, MSU offers a master of arts in strategic communication program. The 30-credit MA in communications online covers subjects such as crisis communication, branding and image, and digital media strategies.
Students work with academic advisers to establish a degree plan that students can complete in five years. The program culminates with a practicum that enables students to gain field experience. Applicants must demonstrate a 3.25 minimum undergraduate GPA and provide a resume or CV along with their application.
MSU’s sponsorship program demonstrates their commitment to assisting military-affiliated students through their transition from military to college life. The school’s Veteran’s Agricultural Worker Training program caters to unemployed U.S. veterans residing in shelters. Military personnel may receive in-state tuition rates.
|16||The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL||Cost: $$$$$||
Most of the students at the University of Alabama come from out of state, including students from 82 different countries. The school offers a master of arts in communication studies with a specialization in organizational leadership that takes students about two years to complete. The master's degree in communication online program includes courses in human communication theory, conflict and negotiation, and group leadership. The school’s 30-credit, fully-online degree delivers classes asynchronously and incorporates a secondary plan called the professional option. This secondary option allows students to gain field experience through a professional internship or project and a capstone portfolio.
Interested applicants need a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA and a 300 minimum on the combined verbal and quantitative sections of the revised GRE or must be in the 50th percentile or higher on the MAT. The school offers military-affiliated students access to tuition assistance.
|17||Colorado State University - Fort Collins Fort Collins, CO||Cost: $$$$$||
Colorado State University’s master of communications and media management combines in-person and online learning components. The hybrid program spans six semesters, requiring students to meet at the Denver Learning Center one night each week. The 30-credit online master’s in communication incorporates one online course and one face-to-face course each semester. Distance learners pay in-state tuition for online courses.
The school uses a cohort model and delivers its online courses asynchronously and synchronously. The curriculum covers topics in managing communication systems, strategic digital communication, and web design and management. All students may download and install Office 365 for free and access CSU’s library databases. Interested applicants must submit writing samples of professional or scholarly writing in English, proof of a 3.0 minimum undergraduate GPA, and a resume or CV.
CSU extends special benefits to military personnel such as rehabilitation programs, holistic healing services such as acupuncture, and nature and land therapy.
|18||Webster University Saint Louis, MO||Cost: $$$$$||
Webster University’s online master’s in communications programs include MA degrees in media communications, communications management, and advertising and marketing communications. Applicants should have earned a 2.5 GPA or better as an undergraduate or have experience in communications. Students may be required to complete six credits of prerequisite undergraduate coursework, and earn a grade of B or better, before they are admitted to the master's program.
The media communications program focuses on analyzing media in various contexts and applying research to evaluate media. Students involved in communications management learn how to apply communication solutions and programs in corporate or organizational settings. Graduates leave school prepared to develop and assess organization-wide communications plans. All programs require distance learners to complete 36 credit hours in core and elective coursework. Terms are structured in nine-week sessions and offered five times throughout the year. All faculty-created courses are accessed via Webster’s WorldClassRoom. Webster's graduate programs allow students to transfer up to 12 credits from qualifying higher education institutions.
|19||Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX||Cost: $$$$$||
Texas Tech University offers its master of arts in strategic communication and innovation online. The 30-credit online communications master’s requires students with less than a 3.0 undergraduate GPA to take the GRE. Tuition rates are the same for in-state and out-of-state students. The school delivers its courses asynchronously. Students may establish a course plan with the assistance of the program director.
The curriculum incorporates research methods, a seminar in mass communication theory, and a capstone project. Students may choose from electives such as multimedia storytelling, advanced social media practice, and special topics in strategic communication. Interested applicants must submit writing samples and a resume detailing related professional experience.
Veterans may use the online Veterans portal for education, employment, health, housing, and disability resources.
|20||East Carolina University Greenville, NC||Cost: $$$$$||
Offered through the university's College of Fine Arts & Communication since 2006, East Carolina's MA in communication with a concentration in health communication emphasizes the study of children's and community health. Courses cover topics like computer-facilitated communication, doctor and patient interactions, and health service advertising. The 30-hour program includes elective options like intercultural communication in the health context and media and health communication. Students can choose from a thesis or non-thesis option.
East Carolina offers rolling admissions throughout the year. Application requirements include a bachelor’s degree, minimum GRE scores, and two letters of professional recommendation. Graduate students are eligible to apply for two program-specific scholarship opportunities worth $1,000 each. A number of student communication organizations, including Communication Graduate Student Association (CGSA) and the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), are also open to distance learners. Graduates of the program are prepared to pursue a variety of healthcare-specific jobs in communications, such as health care advocacy, public relations, and health reporting.
|21||Syracuse University Syracuse, NY||Cost: $$$$$||
Syracuse University began offering its master of science in communications online in 2015. The online communication master’s program consists of 18 core credits, which includes courses in media law, multimedia storytelling, and digital communications systems.
Students choose a specialization in public relations, advertising, or journalism innovation. Depending on the specialization, students study topics in digital branding and strategy, data-driven journalism, or public relations theory. The program incorporates an immersion experience where students participate in on-campus visits and complete a capstone project. Though students may access coursework 24/7, the school delivers courses through live, face-to-face video conferences, with a maximum classroom capacity of 15 students. Applicants must submit their resume and participate in a video interview.
As a Yellow Ribbon Program school, Syracuse University provides tuition assistance, academic resources, and support to military personnel.
|22||Missouri State University - Springfield Springfield, MO||Cost: $$$$$||
Missouri State University-Springfield offers its master of arts in communication program online. The online tuition for this program is lower than what in-state and out-of-state students pay. Students can complete the 32-credit online master’s degree in communication in two years. The school also offers an accelerated format that allows qualifying students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years.
The program typically starts in the fall semester, but under special circumstances, the school makes accommodations for a pre-fall semester start. Students must complete a thesis, seminar paper, or a capstone project. Interested applicants must submit GRE or MAT scores and proof of a minimum undergraduate GPA of a 3.0 during their last 60 credit hours of academic work. Applicants with a GPA between 2.75 and 3.0 must submit GRE scores of at least 153 on the verbal section and 140 on the quantitative section, or a score in the 50th percentile or higher on the MAT.
|23||Drexel University Philadelphia, PA||Cost: $$$$$||
Drexel University's 45-credit master of science in communication program offers to specializations: technical communication and public communication. Courses cover topics in grant writing, event planning, editing, and document design and evaluation. The online communications master’s degree features a six-month internship, asynchronous classes, and program start dates each quarter.
Drexel University adheres to an academic calendar of four 10-week terms. Competitive applicants need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Applicants must submit their resume and an essay detailing the correlation between their academic work and career goals. Drexel offers reduced tuition for active, military-affiliated students. Through the Yellow Ribbon Program, all eligible veterans receive a tuition-free education.
|24||Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY||Cost: $$$$$||
Marist College’s MA in communication focuses on theory, research, and writing across various organizational settings and for multiple audiences. Throughout the curriculum, students are encouraged to develop leadership styles along with conflict resolution skills. A fully online degree with no residency requirement, Marist's MA in communication can be completed on a part- or full-time status. The program consists of 10 courses with an optional thesis. Courses are designed as eight-week modules, allowing full-time students to take two classes at a time for a total of four courses over one semester. Full-time students can complete the program in one year, while part-time students take an average of two years. Applications are accepted for the online program in August, with classes starting in the fall. Online students are encouraged to attend an annual reception for graduate communication students during Alumni Weekend.
|25||Washington State University Pullman, WA||Cost: $$$$$||
WSU offers a 30-credit MA in Strategic Communication through the renowned Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. This online master’s in communication program is designed for students who want to enter careers in advertising, public relations, corporate communication, and communication management. The program's curriculum covers both traditional and emerging digital media forms, providing learning opportunities for information analysis as students create their own strategic communication plans. Students are assigned to a small cohort with which they complete the program. Courses include weekly online instructor communication and access to engaging self-assessment tools. Faculty and industry professionals work with students to help them develop multimedia skills in areas like audio and video software technology and graphic design. This non-thesis program includes a final capstone project and portfolio presentation. Applications are accepted three times throughout the year for admission in the following semester. Interested applicants can sign up online for a live virtual information session.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Communication Program?
A master's in strategic communication from one school may look very different from a graduate communication degree from another school. The curricula and program lengths vary depending on several factors. Degree candidates can specialize in areas such as conflict resolution, advertising, or political communication. Read on for a list of common courses for those seeking an online master's degree in communications.
Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Communication
- Media Law
Students learn about important court cases in the history of communications law, how the decisions affect modern media professionals, and observing ongoing trends in the field. Learners also discuss theories surrounding intellectual property rights, copyright, and plagiarism. Some professors dive into international communications law.
- Communications Research Design
Public relations, marketing, and advertising professionals rely heavily on research. These courses teach degree candidates to design studies that give insight into consumer habits. Students discover how to analyze data based on their research and make communications decisions accordingly. Critical thinking skills also help graduates use existing research for their brands.
- Behavior and Communications
In these courses, degree candidates learn how to use their communications strategies to influence the audience's behavior. The class blends psychological and communications theories. Learners leave this class with skills that can help them in areas like political campaigns, advertising, marketing, public service announcements, and public relations.
- Communications in the Digital Age
These courses cover the ways that communications can effectively use technological innovations like social media, smartphones, and virtual reality to meet their goals. Educators demonstrate how these tools change media theory and practice.
- Strategic Public Relations
In the digital world, brands cannot afford to waste time with bad communications strategies in a crisis. These courses teach students to put public relations programs in place that safeguard companies if a negative story goes viral. Learners understand how to efficiently contact all involved parties and get in front of the story.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Communication?
A learner may take between 15 months and five years to complete a communication graduate program. Students who take full-time classes finish quickly, while those who add extra concentrations or certifications should expect to spend a little longer in programs than their peers. Half-time students spend about three years working toward their master's in communication management, and workers who must limit their course load may need four years.
In addition to enrollment levels, the school's class schedules can affect how long learners spend on programs. For example, some accelerated programs feature eight-week classes that allow full-time students to graduate in just over one year. Master's in strategic communication programs with traditional terms in the fall, spring, and summer often require more time. The number of transfer credits a school accepts and a student can change the timeline, and learners with bachelor's degrees in unrelated fields sometimes may enroll in foundational communications courses, which can delay graduation.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Communication Degrees
Schools with institutional accreditation offer assurance for both students and their potential employers. The rigorous examinations that these universities and colleges undergo to earn their credentials assure learners of their education's quality. Employers can also understand that the candidates will possess the skills they need to succeed. Institutions receive accreditation both regionally and nationally, but most with national credentials are for-profit and may carry less prestige than provincial counterparts.
Attending a school without either type of institutional credential can hurt a student's chances of receiving financial aid. Many scholarships, grants, and tuition reimbursement programs require learners to enroll in accredited programs. Some also require the degree to achieve programmatic accreditation. These credentials apply only to a specific plan within a school. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC) is the primary agency that oversees communication programs.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulates all higher education accreditation in the United States. The department contracts with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is a nongovernmental association. CHEA certifies accrediting organizations, including programmatic accreditors like ACEJMC and those that grant institutional credentials. CHEA also allows learners to search all accredited schools.
While accreditation can be complicated, students must take it seriously. Credits from unaccredited schools do not assure educational value, often do not transfer, and can keep learners from earning financial aid.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Communication Graduates
Master's in Communication Salary
PayScale reports that graduates from master's in strategic communication programs earn an average of $63,000 per year. The pay for master's in communication jobs can vary based on many factors, such as location, the type of employer, and the level of responsibility. A candidate's amount of experience often proves itself as the most significant factor in earning power. For example, marketing managers who are just getting started tend to receive about $54,000 annually, but with five or more years of experience, these professionals make $67,000 each year.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Vice President of Marketing||$44,157||$86,000||$128,000||$170,000|
|Global Account Manager||$103,142||$71,000||$91,000||$134,000|
|Public Relations Manager||$64,197||$51,000||$68,000||$75,000|
Source: PayScale, Nov. 2018
Master's in Communication Careers
Earning a master's in strategic communication or a related subject provides graduates with several career options. Depending on the person's personality and interests, in addition to their concentration in graduate school and professional experience, candidates can pursue management positions in marketing, advertising, public relations, or corporate communications. Professionals who do well with numbers and research may pursue market research positions, while learners with more specific interests may enter certain industries, such as healthcare.
- Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers
These professionals oversee the related departments and design programs to increase brand awareness. They may manage teams of writers, designers, and account managers. While some employers only require these managers to have bachelor's degrees, graduate-level courses give learners the skills they need to excel in these positions.
Median Annual Salary: $129,380
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
Public relations managers represent corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, and high-profile people to the public. These managers maintain their clients' reputations and try to stop crises as they occur. Clients may appreciate the additional skills and knowledge that a master's in strategic communication affords public relations professionals.
Median Annual Salary: $111,280
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Market Research Analysts
These data-driven professionals take in data from market researchers who talk to consumers. Analysts pore over the data and find pieces for marketers to apply. They work with the creative marketing team to design effective campaigns and their work benefits from master's degrees, especially those that concentrate on research.
Median Annual Salary: $63,230
Projected Growth Rate: 23%
- Writers and Authors
While some of these professionals craft books, many write branded content in the digital space, newsletters, marketing copy, or resumes. Writers also create magazine articles, video scripts, and speeches, with some concentrating on niche, technical topics like information technology. A master's degree can help writers specialize and earn more.
Median Annual Salary: $61,820
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Medical and Health Services Managers
Communications professionals who specialize in healthcare can find lucrative, stable, and fulfilling work in the field. These managers work with medical professionals to design effective public health campaigns, manage the organization's reputation, and keep all communications in line with confidentiality laws. Master's degrees with health concentrations can help professionals secure these jobs.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
Professional organizations can serve as valuable resources for online master's in communication students, as well as recent graduates. Perks of membership with a professional organization include access to academic journals and trade publications, professional development and training opportunities, invitations to conferences and networking events, and career counseling and job leads. We outline four of the most prominent professional organizations for those with a communications master's degree below.
Financing Your Online Master's in Communication Program
For most students, an online master's in communications degree represents a significant financial investment. Many mitigate the high cost of education by applying for financial aid. The ED offers loans and grants for graduate students, which may be need- or merit-based. To qualify for federal aid, students must complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Other sources of financial aid include the student's college or university, public companies, nonprofit organizations, and religious groups.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.
- Best Online Master's in Communications Programs of 2017
Rank School Location 1 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY 2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 3 University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 5 Northeastern University Global Network Boston, MA 6 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 7 Webster University Saint Louis, MO 8 Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN 9 University of Denver Denver, CO 10 East Carolina University Greenville, NC 11 Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY 12 Troy University Troy, AL 13 Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor, MI 14 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA 15 Arizona State University-Tempe Tempe, AZ 16 Washington State University Pullman, WA 17 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD 18 Lasell College Newton, MA 19 University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, MO 20 Southern Utah University Cedar City, UT